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JCC Senate Amph P E O P L E Interviews, Issue LXXVIII: Lord Vivec, Part II

Discussion in 'Community' started by Coruscant, Aug 8, 2020.

  1. Coruscant

    Coruscant Force Ghost star 7

    Feb 15, 2004
    Welcome back!

    Sean is one of those people who has grown up on the JCC. He joined while in high school and has since undergone tremendous growth and a stunning transformation. And yet as much as he has changed, he’s always stayed the same old Sean: blunt, abrasive, and direct; irascible, choleric, and polarizing; stubborn, focused, and driven. Would we really have him any other way?

    If you haven’t already, catch up on his first interview from five years ago. In this new interview, we talk about what drives him, what he’s most concerned with, and where he wants to go from here. Find out about Sean’s most anticipated upcoming movies, whether or not Mark Zuckerberg is an elder god, just what’s the deal with liberalism, and much, much more...

    As a word of warning, we talked a decent amount about this ghastly thing called “Star Wars.” I have put that segment of the discussion under a spoiler tag, just in case there are a few readers who haven’t seen the latest episode (or just to make it easier to skip over that part).

    Favorite... Book
    The works of Lovecraft Film Blade Runner 2049 Game Knights of the Old Republic TV show Babylon 5 Song Aurora by DEADLIFE Philosopher Bertrand Russell Scientist Richard Feynman Politician Jeremy Corbyn Monarch Napoleon I Revolutionary Fidel Castro Mythological deity Kali Monster Godzilla Filmmaker Coen Brothers Worker My Mom Work of art The Starry Night Saying or quotation "From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs" Twitter user dril Planet Proxima Centauri b SW episode Empire Strikes Back Way to relax Listening to music Meal Biryani Beverage Vanilla Coke Pastime Binging shows Desert Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting

    Oh man Tunick’s gonna love the Vanilla Coke mention...

    But, seriously, why Vanilla Coke?

    For me it's back and forth, either Vanilla Coke or Lime Coke. I actually don't like regular coke, I'm one of the few heretics who prefers Pepsi. But when they have another flavor in it, I like coke.

    I understand you quit your job at Facebook. It must’ve paid well. Was it sudden or planned; did you have a slow build-up of feeling like you didn’t want to work there anymore?

    It was neither sudden nor planned, but more of a thing that became inevitable. A lot of things over time added up to me leaving. Facebook paid decently, but there was no real path upwards. I felt that my work there really just amounted to helping Facebook advertise to the user more efficiently. I didn't feel like I was doing anything beneficial for the world. I was also spending more time taking care of my terminally ill mother and it was getting hard to juggle that with he amount of hours I was being asked to put into work. So when time came for our team to move cities, I left. I don't entirely regret my time there, but I studied math and physics in college because I wanted to do something worthwhile, and this just wasn't it.

    I didn’t know your mother was ill; how is she doing?

    My mom has been ill with lupus since I was in fifth grade, actually. Unfortunately, she passed away last year.

    My condolences.

    If it’s any consolation, she raised a hell of a son.

    Have you found that something-more-worthwhile yet?

    Thank you. Not to make this interview really depressing right off the bat, but I kind of fell into a funk after her death and I'm not really sure what direction I want to go in. Then Covid hit. I'm using this time to get better acquainted with the field to quantum computing, as that always interested me and now seems as good a time as any to do some learning.

    What has been something about quantum computing that has piqued your interest? From what I understand, a true quantum computer would be the end of encryption, correct?

    It's true that quantum computing will break some encryption, but there will be quantum computing safe encryption methods. As for what draws me to the subject, one of the things I always enjoyed studying was pure quantum mechanics. It was my favorite part of my college curricula, and maybe I'm drawn to the comfort of something familiar.

    Now speaking of your schooling, the last time we talked, you expressed a desire to go after an MS/PhD in physics. Are you closer to that? Did you get one or both?

    I wish I could say yes, but sadly the answer is no. I stayed in the work force, instead. Gotta make money.

    So for those on the JCC who don’t know what quantum computers may accomplish, what are those potential applications?

    I don't really want to bore everyone with science talk, and some of it is deep computer science theory which is kind of outside my field, so I'll try to keep this brief. A quantum computer can solve problems faster than classical computers (the kind we're using today). The other thing is that quantum computing can solve problems classical computers can't. In addition, inherently quantum mechanical systems can't be properly simulated in a classical computer. But that's all for the computer scientists to deal with. What i'm interested in is the science behind creating a quantum computer to begin with. I've spent more than enough time dealing with data and programming; I want to get back into math and science.

    Who is your favorite journalist?

    Can't think of a journalist I like

    Don’t you like Glenn Greenwald?

    He's better than most, but he's a little prone to conspiracy, and honestly my lack of an answer for best journalist is a protest against the entire field of journalist. My political awakening was 9/11, at that point onwards Journalists, at least in this country, have been abysmal. I'm sure if I were older I'd be saying the same thing about journalism pre-9/11 as well.

    So what’s wrong with journalism in this day and age, essentially?

    A lot. There's a major illusion that people have, that corporate media is a "free press" because it's not directly controlled by a government, and that's just not true. The fact is that when corporate media isn't pushing its own agenda, it's carrying water for the government. During the build-up to the Iraq War, major news networks treated US justification for war as a fact and did not even come close to questioning the evidence. When it comes to America's Enemies ® , our media always gives the government a pass. And then you take how corporate media treats people who call for limits on corporate power. Right now liberals love Bezos because he says a few bad things about Trump and unlike Trump, he's a "good billionaire" but Amazon's warehouses are a human rights violation when it comes to how workers are treated. Bernie Sanders had called for Amazon to treat its workers better and put forth a bill to increase the taxes paid by Amazon and other large companies whose workers need government assistance. And then you saw op-ed after news story after op-ed targeting Bernie Sanders from the Washington Post. And as we know, Bezos owns the Washington Post. There's just a culture of corruption and conflict of interest in the press.

    How do we fix journalism?

    Nothing is going to fix journalism fully inside a capitalist society, but getting corporate money and billionaire money out of it will be a good start. Further, dismantling CNN and other large news corporations.

    Something I’ve noticed about you is that there have been these dramatic changes in your life. Moving from Pakistan to USA, going from hardcore Catholicism to atheism, quitting Facebook...

    There’s one more now, isn’t there? Was there a moment when you decided, “I’m a communist,” or was it more of a gradual realization?

    Dramatic changes definitely are something I've had, for sure. Leftism has been something that had come gradually. Everyone remembers I was a conservative democrat in my teen years. And in 2008 I was an enthusiastic Edwards followed by Obama supporter. It was the Obama administration that really shifted me leftward. I watched him try to pass a federal version of Romneycare and it was Blue Dog Democrats who stripped it of its public option. But the real thing was watching, first-hand, American imperialism be largely the same under Obama as it was under Bush. Were small things different? Yeah. Obama did a detente with Cuba and he did the Iran deal. But the Iran deal was just another method to the same goal: neuter Iran's rise on behalf of Israel and Saudi Arabia.

    You see, America has its geopolitical sphere of influence. The US and its allies take actions to benefit our economy at the expense of the people of the global south. Which leaders we support, which counties we support, this is all in benefit of this goal. And democrats perpetuate this just as much as republicans do.

    We’ll talk about that stuff, but I want to stay focused on you for now; do you think there’s something in you that gives you this drive to always be changing, always growing, bettering yourself?

    I think it's because whenever I look at my self, I'm always different from what I was. At any moment in time, you look back, and you see someone different. When I look at the world, I don't like what I see, and I'm always trying to find a way for things to be better. And I don't have the answers yet, but maybe one day I will.

    With Obamacare, isn’t it good that there was progress, even if it wasn’t perfect or didn’t go far enough? The analogy you see used is that it moved the ball down the field.

    So the issue with Obamacare is that what ended up getting passed was a lot worse than what Obama proposed. The initially proposed Affordable Care Act had a public option, or as Pete Buttigieg called "Medicare 4 All Who Want It." The Public Option was being talked about back then in 2008! And the people who stood in the way of that were Democrats. That's the problem: Democrats don't want universal healthcare. We got progress in spite of centrists, not because of them. We almost didn't even get that, because of those same centrist democrats. Now the conversation has moved to Medicare 4 All, which centrist democrats definitely don't want.

    But isn’t it wrong to generalize all the Democrats when it was a minority who dug their heels in, and in the case of one, Lieberman, it was just the one Senator? And would the conversation have moved to M4A without first the passage of Obamacare?

    It seems to me that you're trying to question whether or not leftists like myself are giving Obamacare enough credit when it comes to "pushing the conversation leftward" and I'd respond by saying it doesn't matter. Anything could have pushed the conversation leftward. I'd argue that even if Obamacare never happened, this pandemic would certainly have pushed the conversation about healthcare leftward. The only thing you can measure Obamacare on is what it did, not what it could have been (looking at you, KOTOR 2 stans). Obamacare did good for some people, but a little help isn't the same as a lot of help, and it could have been a lot better. Its first enemy was Democrats, and that's a pattern I'm seeing when it comes to any attempt to do any kind of left wing economic policy: you have to fight the Democrats first.

    I continually have to stop myself from asking the question that keeps coming to my lips: how. I think you’re aware, too, as when you said you’re still trying to find the answers.

    I’m well aware of the “yet you participate in society, curious!” meme. But we can only improve society from within it, no?

    What are the most important things that need to be accomplished in America, right now?

    You're absolutely right, we're not going to wake up in a communist society tomorrow, and there are things we can do right now in a capitalist society to benefit everyone. So here's a list of things we can do:

    1) Medicare 4 All: It doesn't matter who you are, you are automatically covered. Any time you go to the doctor's office, you get treated, and you are not billed. No shopping for what doctor is in-network, what procedures are covered, how are you going to pay for it, etc. You need medicare care? You get medical care.

    2) Right to housing: Everyone has a right to a home. We have a lot of vacant houses and vacant land. There is no reason to have people on the streets, it's actually more expensive to leave people on the streets than it is to do the most direct action possible to stopping homelessness: give people homes. When someone has a home, they have safety, an address, the ability to get a job more easily, etc. It's a no-brainer.

    3) Right to food: Everyone has to eat. The declaration of independence says everyone has a right to life, well in order to live, there are certain necessities that need to be met, prime of which is food. We have the food, there is no food shortage here: the issue is getting it transported. And i know, liberals and conservatives will harp about breadlines, but that was in America during the great depression when there was a massive food shortage. And you know what i saw this year in capitalist america? Long, long lines just to go in and pay marked-up prices for necessities. Not Cuba, America.

    Those are three things the next president could do to vastly improve the lives of many, many people. But neither Trump nor Biden will, because neither believe that this is something that should be solved.

    I like how simple these goals are. The solution to our problems is not so complex—it’s simple. Solve homelessness? Give the homeless homes.

    Let’s think about the forces that hold us back from achieving these things. Is it a notion of “this is the way it’s always been, why should it be easier for future generations?” Or is it racism? Greed? Something else? What’s the strongest thing?

    Giving the homeless homes is actually something that some cities have tried. I wish I could take credit for finding a simple, elegant solution to a complex problem (the goal of any physicist), but I can't. The main force that holds us back is American Culture, which is inexorably tied to capitalism. Americans have a belief that hard work means success and that failure is a moral failing. If you don't succeed, it means you didn't work hard enough. You're not making enough money from your 50 hour a week job? Get a second job! Get a third job! "I did it, so can you!" But you and I both know there are many factors that come into play when someone attempts to make it in this system: luck, connections, starting capital, how you're raised, etc. A lot of things that are simply beyond your control. But Americans have bought into this "Cult of Work." You work hard, you get success. You didn't succeed means you didn't work hard. This is why even the best Democrats don't attempt to get people more help than just getting them to the starting line. Case in point, my GF is an RNA. Nurses in the state she used to work in were not paid highly. So when fast food workers were pushing for a $15 an hour minimum wage, what did her colleagues say? "How dare unqualified fast food workers try to make as much as us!" Never asking why nurses aren't paid a higher wage, it's "why are these people who I view as lesser than me because they didn't work as hard as I did thinking that they should make as much as me?"

    Well how do we change that attitude?

    I know, it’s The Big How

    Generational change. Millennials right now are the ones who suffer the most because of boomers having this attitudes. Boomers aren't going to be around forever. Millennials and Zoomers do not follow this cult of work in droves like our parents did.

    Will that change as more millennials or zoomers become more and more successful?

    As millennials and Zoomers make up more if the voting electorates, you'll see a large shift leftward in the overton window. One only needs to see the demographics of support for Bernie Sanders.

    Let’s talk about Bernie Sanders a little bit. I know he was your compromise guy, and now you’ve abandoned him. But are you at all just a little sentimental?

    Bernie Sanders was my compromise guy, yes. Regarding my abandonment of him, it's merely that he's never going to be president. This isn't because I have any ill will towards him, it's just, he's done. He's got maybe one more Senate term left before he retires. He's going to spend this election season doing his best to defeat Trump. If Biden loses, the Liberals are still going to blame him. If Biden wins, they're going to forget he exists. It's a sad end to a man who was genuinely a good person.

    Do you think he’d be too old to run in 2024?

    Absolutely. He'll be 82 in 2024.

    Are you committed to not voting for Biden?

    I am. I can't see a situation in which I will vote for Joe Biden.

    Who do you think’s going to win?

    If you asked me earlier this year I would have said Trump because Biden is an exceptionally ****ty candidate, but I think at this point Biden is going to edge Trump out because of Covid.

    Do you have concerns about the Supreme Court?

    Not really. I don't think Joe Biden will appoint any particularly progressive justices. Furthermore, Trump's appointments haven't been as loyal to his positions as they could have been.

    While we’re on the subject of voting, earlier this year when Biden’s victory became clear, I think it was you who declared that electoralism is a lie. Am I correct? Or am I thinking of someone else?

    I think that's more vncredleader's area of expertise, but I did post a wonderful twitter treatise by Boots Riley on why electoralism doesn't work. In summary, in electoralism you're changing individuals, but you're not making any changes to the system. The way government works largely remains the same. The way the economy works is largely the same. The changes are surface-level and superficial. By making people think that they're affecting "real change" with voting, it prevents them doing direct action.

    How is electoralism different from democracy?

    Democracy is a form of government whereas electoralism is the philosophy that the will of the people can be achieved through electoral politics.

    What should we have instead of an electoral system?

    Dictatorship of the Proletariat, of course. :p

    Right now, the best we can do is people taking Direct Action (that's in contrast to electoralism). Direct Action works. When George Floyd was murdered, no charges were being filed against the police officers. So Black Lives Matter and other groups went out and protested, and rioted, and burned a few buildings down. And then, days later, they were charged. With 3rd degree murder. So more action was taken. More places set on fire, the charges were upped. Several places lost police funding, a city disbanded its police force. The people who say rioting doesn't work are lying. They're lying because they don't want to lose anything due to the riots. But rioting works.

    Ok, one more for this segment of the conversation...

    Why the left?

    Because I believe every human being by virtue of existing has the right to quality food, housing, safety, medical care, and some semblance of a modern day western standard of living at no cost to them. Nobody should have to slave away at the mercy of someone else in order to survive. Nobody should have to live on the streets and starve. No, everyone should be taken care of. Will this mean that some people will be lazy and get something for nothing? Sure. But who cares? Right now, in liberal democracy, lots of people get something for nothing. Those people are rich and they have this little thing called "my money works for me" which is code for "I already started with money and that allows me to make money in ways that the average person cannot.

    Ok just one more...

    But... why not liberalism?

    Because liberalism espouses a society where your success is determined by a hierarchy based on wealth. We haven't discussed hierarchy much in this interview, but essentially in capitalism your ability to succeed is largely based on your starting wealth, your connections, and your social mobility. This means that people who are born to rich, well-connected families have access to success that the rest of us don't. Elon Musk and Bill Gates aren't as self-made as they would like you to believe. They had extensive help from their parents. The problem with liberalism is that their solution to this is to give the rest of an opportunity to attempt to get the same level of success. And you know what? If all success was a high score on a list, sure, why not. But success is literally the ability to survive and the ability for your children to survive. So no, liberalism doesn't cut it. People need food. People need shelter. People need medical care. It's not to be left to chance that they get it. It's to be guaranteed. And liberals refuse to guarantee it, they believe it should be "earned." Well I say no.

    Movie you’re most looking forward to? Let me guess... is it Dune?

    Who knows ofc when we’ll ever see it

    I'm definitely looking forward to Dune. I've liked everything Denis Villeneuve has done, though I actually dislike the Dune book series. I'm also looking forward to the next Mission Impossible film (love the series) and the next Thor film. I'm....cautiously curious as to what The Matrix 4 is going to be like.

    Ok so what don’t you like about the Dune series? I only ever read the first book and didn’t bother with the rest. That’s not to say I didn’t like it, I loved it.

    I've read all the Herbert Dune books, and a few of the prequels and sequels written by his son and KJ Anderson. For me, the most important thing in scifi (and in fiction, really) is the characters. I need to like characters; I need to root for them. I want to be invested in their struggles and their challenges, I want to care about their outcomes! Dune....does not give me that. Dune was a great exercise in worldbuilding and it's a classic in terms of Herbert's imagination, but I did not care for the characters. I wasn't invested in Paul or Jessica. Later on I wasn't invested in Paul's children, or Duncan Idaho. I love grandiose sci-fi, but without compelling characters, it's like reading a wikipedia article.

    I imagine you dislike Foundation for the same reason? If you’ve read it, that is...

    I read Foundation, but not the sequels. While it suffered from similar problems I had with Dune, Asimov is just a better writer than Herbert. That said, I read Asimov's Robots novels and enjoyed those very much.

    And the Matrix sequel... I watched Revolutions in theaters the one time and never went back to it. I adore the first two films. What do you think a fourth Matrix movie will have to do to be successful?

    I think the Matrix' biggest flaw was that it overplayed its hand. It was too clever for its own good. The Matrix and Reloaded had some really good ideas and used philosophy topics to their advantage, but by the time you got to the end of Reloaded and into Revelations, there was too much "crazy" in the plot. I think what the Matrix needs to do is shift focus a bit. The first Matrix came out in 1999. A lot of what we consider staples of 21st century living was either not out yet or in its infancy. I don't think a typical story of "Machines vs Humans" works anymore, at least not done in the way of Terminator or The Matrix. People are less scared of predator drones become sentient and more scared of how our data is being collected and used to control us. And so I think this is the direction that The Matrix has to go: think Person of Interest or season 3 of Westworld. What made those stories really compelling is just how close it was to modern day Big Data.

    And should it actually take place in the, you know, Matrix, as opposed to sideshow-apocalypse-Earth, like in Revolutions?

    Leading question, I know

    It would definitely be helpful that The Matrix takes place in some sort of a Matrix. That said, I do have ideas about they can go about "updating" the Matrix to make more sense in our modern world.

    What are those ideas?

    I think instead of people being batteries, I think instead the Matrix can be a place where we willingly go but it's being used to collect data about us.

    Aha! That would be an exciting innovation for the Matrix series... so it probably won’t happen :p

    Did your time at Facebook really bring the problems about Big Data to the forefront of your consciousness?

    The end result is always way more boring than the speculation! :p

    And yeah. I don't want to get into details, but the stuff Facebook and Google do is terrifying.

    Why do they do it? Is it their main source of revenue?

    Google and Facebook and other companies like them aren't selling you a product. You are the product. You use their website and they get information about you. Information they sell to other companies and information they use to get companies to put ads that target you specifically. By "you" I mean a demographic. The more accurate the data they boast, the more they charge the companies for ads. That's how they make their money. I was knee deep in this when I worked at Facebook.

    I’m—I’m... I’m a... pr-pr-product?

    Yep! Everything collected about you, whether you have a facebook profile or not, is a product in and of itself. And the more accurate the profile about you is, the higher the price Facebook can charge advertising companies to sell "you" to them.

    Now why don’t I receive a cut of this?!

    Because in capitalism you don't have the political power to demand it unless you already have wealth. Bet you didn't think we'd end up back here, did ya?

    Did you ever meet Mark Zuckerberg when you were at FB?

    No, I never got to speak to him, but I did see him (think one room's length distance).

    Did a chill steal through you at that moment?

    He's a very weird person. I'm not going to say more, he's just.....weird.

    Alright back to movies

    [Star Wars under the tag! You were warned.]

    So. TROS. What went wrong?
    What went wrong with TROS is all the way back when they were planning the Trilogy. In that they didn't plan it. I still maintain that TFA was a good movie. But when TLJ came out, they really didn't have a plan as to what to do from there. I don't like TLJ. I know there are people here who do, and for some reason whether or not you like TLJ has become the virtue signal for whether you're an SJW or a Nazi idk why. But it's very clear to me that TFA set up things that Rian Johnson decided it'd be fun to just throw out, which, okay I guess, but then JJ got his revenge by throwing out the things Rian tried to set up. The other issue is that TROS tried to do to much in one movie. If TROS was broken down into two movies, maybe the first one be about Kylo searching for this mysterious message and then coming across Palpatine while Rey rebuilt the resistance, and then in the second movie Palpatine's plan comes to fruition, idk. We could do a whole interview on what went wrong here, but I maintain that didn't happen in TROS, it happened a lot earlier when KK didn't exercise enough control over the overall storyline.

    What do you think of how Kylo’s character ended up? You were in a Kylo Ren costume once, yes? I take it you’re a big fan

    Yeah you're remembering right, I had a cool Kylo costume with a voice changing helmet. I was a big fan of Kylo. I like Adam Driver, and I enjoyed what they were initially planning with him. I liked that you had a guy who had a lot to live up to (hero mom, hero dad, super hero uncle, super villain grandfather) and he was probably just....normal. He wasn't anything spectacular. You have to remember, the Dark side isn't stronger, it's easier. So what happens when someone who has big shoes to fill isn't as awesome as his predecessors? Why, he took the easier path. As for his outcome, i do think it was inevitable that he'd be redeemed, but I really don't think he should have fallen in love with Rey. I liked that he defeated the Knights of Ren in a cool scene, but uh, all the really did all movie was stand around menacingly.

    And what did you think about the big Rey Palpatine reveal?

    Kinda weird, tbh. Like am I supposed to believe that Palpatine's son was some rando schmuck we never heard about? Nah, I still think she's actually a clone. Snoke was a clone that went wrong. Rey was a clone that went right. You can't change my mind.

    Who would she have been a clone of, though?

    Palps. She's a clone of him instead of being his granddaughter. Her "parents" were two lab techs who wanted to protect her so they took her away. That's my headcanon.

    Isn’t Palpatine blond and blue-eyed, though? Well, uh, pre-UNLIMITED POWAH, anyway...

    Since when has Star Wars been scientifically accurate? If I demanded that from sci-fi, especially Star Wars, I'd have been insane by now. All I demand is that things make sense, internally.

    Ok, so what should be the plan for Star Wars from here on out?

    Go to the old republic. Let's see those mandalorian-jedi wars (it's referenced in The Mandalorian!) Also maybe I'm just biased because I loved Kotor I wanna see more of that.

    More prequels, though? Don’t you want to see the story move forward?

    Problem is....move forward how? TROS nicely ended the whole sith, whole first order, everything in one day. Tied it in a nice little bow with no explanations. I'm currently sighing. I think Star Wars should go where it can tell the best stories.

    What about the anthology films?

    That's definitely getting scrapped I think. They had plans for 3, one did well, one did not, and one died in the planning stages. Shame, I really liked Rogue One.

    Let’s talk about another story that looms large in the public consciousness... Harry Potter. Wow. JK Rowling has had quite the fall from grace. What do you think is up with that, the way she zeroed in on just this one particular issue? Also, have you read HP?

    I have read Harry Potter, yes. It was the big thing for all of us to read when I was in Jr High and High School. As for her "fall from grace" and focus on one issue, there's a thing about TERFs that's common: when they take up the issue of transphobia, that becomes the singular issue they care about. Graham Linehan, famous for the IT Crowd and Father Ted, took up the issue of transphobia from a radical feminist perspective quite a while ago, and soon that became the only thing he tweeted, before his twitter got suspended. The same is happening to JK.

    JK's claim that she "doesn't hate transwomen" is a lie. The very first tweet which outed JK as a TERF has her misgendering a transwoman. TERFs hate trans women. They refuse to gender trans women correctly. They refuse to allow trans women in women's spaces. They constantly make gender essentialist arguments against trans women. It's a good thing that she's getting pushback, since trans people are pretty much one of the most marginalized groups in society,

    I really wonder if she would have espoused these views in 1997. It just seems so far away from that JK Rowling.

    You’ve talked before about a series, Dresden Files, I think? What do you really like about it?

    JK Rowling has always been bad, it's just coming into the forefront now,

    And yeah, I'm a fan of the Dresden Files (or the "Wolverine books" as Wocky calls them). I like the way magic is done in that better than in things like Harry Potter and I really like the characters. Jim Butcher has constructed quite the universe and populated it with fleshed out people. Also it has my favorite opening sentence of any novel: "The building was on fire and it wasn't my fault."

    So what makes a good system of magic in your opinion?

    One in which you don't have preset everything like a video game. Sure, in a video game it's fine to have it broken down, but in books and movies it should be a lot more fluid and mysterious. In the Dresden files a mage comes up with their own spells, their own way of casting it, etc. You don't "learn" spells. You do magic.

    So I know from earlier that you appreciate the works of HP Lovecraft. Why so?

    I enjoy stories about someone finding a secret that others don't know, the horrors that exist beneath the skin of the world and then going mad from it. It doesn't have to be magical, it doesn't even have to be unexplained: it just has to show you how small you are. Hell, the Sun is an Elder God if you think about it.

    Is Mark Zuckerberg an Elder God?

    Definitely not. At best he's an automata.

    Dayum there must be some pretty evil **** out there

    Let’s talk a little about cancel culture... and HP Lovecraft is a good time to segue, because he was a bit of a douche. What, for you, is the point when you decide that you can no longer consume someone’s art?

    HP Lovecraft was an unabashed racist. He had especially negative thoughts regarding mixed race people, whom he called "mongrels" in his stories, One of his main short stories, A Shadow over Innsmouth, is basically an allegory of someone discovering they are mixed race/have nonwhite ancestry. As a mixed-race person myself, this is...awkward. However, he's dead. He's not getting any benefit from me happening to enjoy cosmic horror. It's not like JK Rowling, who gets money every time a new Fantastic Beasts movie comes out. It's possible to have a cosmic horror story without there needing to be racism or bigotry in it. So I'm not giving up on the genre. To answer your question: if the bigoted artist can't get any benefit from me consuming the art, and if the art isn't racist in and of itself, then I'll consume the art if I like it. I'm not jumping to re-read a Shadow over Innsmouth. But I am looking forward to the next cosmic horror story by a competent author.

    Is it just me or has this been a time when all our (maybe not yours specifically) faves are getting devoured by the culture at large? Rowling, Star Wars, it seems like nobody and nothing is safe. Then there’s COVID. The lockdown. Biden almost as maligned as Trump. It feels like the end of an age, or at least an age of chaos.

    And why is that?

    The society we've constructed for ourselves isn't sustainable. Liberalism and Capitalism has failed. American culture has failed. Entertainment has failed. I don't want to sound like a mix of appleseed and Ken, but I feel like we're living in the beginning of the first Foundation novel.

    At this point, I asked Vivec to come up with an answer to which I would frame a question.

    Why yes, that was when I nearly got locked inside the dungeon!

    Have you ever been to this “Mansus?”

    one more time!

    It took two people to pull it out. However I think a part of it still remains.

    Did you get Creepy Uncle Joe’s hand out of her hair?

    So... did you really almost get stuck in a dungeon?

    Yeah. Before I worked at Facebook, I worked at SolarCity (which is now part of Tesla). My boss was having a get together for the team at her parents' home. And that's when we learned that her family was super duper rich with a large, old mansion. It included a secret underground chamber that was meant to hide alcohol during Prohibition. You got into it via opening apart a built-in seating area in the living room, and inside was this creepy underground chamber empty except for a stool and one light bulb hanging from a chain. Normally I'd have been super scared but there were seven of us so it felt pretty active and not scary. I'm a huge fan of secret passageways in mansions and the underground chamber was fairly large with almost a maze-like arrangement of wooden separates. I was so busy investigating that I didn't realize for a few minutes that the voices had stopped and that my phone flashlight was my only source of light. And that's when the terror sunk in. I didn't know how to get to the entrance. There were just dark walls and scary looking silhouettes everywhere. After a few more minutes of me panicking and yelling out a few names the trap door opens and my boss yells out my name. I was saved. That's how the joke "You locked Sean in your dungeon" started at SolarCity.

    [face_laugh] I mean, I’m sorry that was such a frightening experience for you

    And this getting stuck thing

    Far more benign than it sounds. It also involves my time at SolarCity and it was a creative way for me to talk about how my team got laid off. My job at SolarCity was to analyze the solar power generation and determine if less power was generated through a fault of our system or through the customer not following proper direction (like making sure trees are trimmed, dust is cleared, etc). I was pretty good at it: I could look at a graph of energy over time and tell you what was wrong based on the shape. But they soon realized that I was a lot better at math than really most people there, and I got put on special projects. All cause several departments had tried to come up with an equation for something for months while I did it on my shuttle-ride home. So I was in charge of a special project to come up with the most efficient way to use a Tesla battery to stop energy input from the power grid from going above a certain amount. It'd take forever to explain, but I was halfway through this project when my team, including myself, was laid off. What ended up happening though was a friend of mine who was still part of the company was giving me updates. Apparently nobody had a clue how to continue my work. This was something that needed to be done as SolarCity wanted to offer this service to its customers. So i was told that they assigned two people from Tesla to come in and to try and extract my math and code and figure out what to do about my project. Except they couldn't and so they decided to just build upon what i had done. So I got no credit, no extra payment, but my work is the basis of an important Tesla service.


    Tesla’s loss, Sean

    Which reminds me... let’s talk about Elon Musk. Real deal or fraud?

    A complete fraud. He isn't a "self-made" anything. His family's wealth mixed with a few good decisions about what to get into has spurred his wealth, but when it comes to like, any actual science he's like Donald Trump reading a Covid graph. Reddit chuds who buy into NASA's warp drive nonsense sing his praises because it makes them feel smarter than religious people if they're involved in "Science!" but it's gotten to the point where he believes the undue praise he receives. That time he decided to interject himself into a very real situation where a bunch of kids were trapped in the cave, so he suggested an impractical submarine that he'd I guess build overnight like they do in Star Trek, only the submarine would have no maneuverability and would take the kids out one by one. Absolutely useless, but he really bought into his own brand and wanted to feel like Tony Stark (a comparison I see made on the internet). Naturally, the people in charge of rescuing the kids told him nice to **** off, but his ego was bruised so he accused one of the divers of being a pedophile. Thanks Elongated Muskrat for turning a situation about rescuing kids in trouble to being about you. No, he's no Tony Stark. He's that cringey CEO from Iron Man 2 whose robots get hijacked by Whiplash.

    How about the work SpaceX has been doing?

    I think SpaceX is probably fine getting our cargo and astronauts up to low-earth orbit (like where the international space station is) but the real science will be done by NASA and other space agencies. Private enterprise can't be trusted to do basic science research.

    Why is that?

    The goal of a private enterprise is to make profit. Everything is geared towards that. I trust public enterprise to be a better steward of space and a better champion of scientific research.

    [secret question]

    Kate Beckinsale

    [secret question]


    How long do you think you’ll live?

    [secret answer]

    How long do you think humanity’s got left?

    [secret answer]

    We can’t ride it out by scooting towards the North and South Poles?

    Nope lmao. That's not going to work for a multitude of reasons.

    But but but

    What do we do!?

    (And why not?)

    This is what we do:


    Also I don't really want to write another wall of text but tell me if you think we're going to have the entire world population in the poles AND have all the farmland there too.

    I think you’re underestimating the human will to survive. I mean, sure, millions, even billions, might die, but if there’s some way, humans are going to find it.

    Tell me why I’m wrong, Worf

    Because the vast majority of cases where the plucky underdogs tried to defy fate only end up getting steamrolled by it. Too much of American culture, backed up by American movies and tv, give Americans the false hope that they can stick their middle finger at overwhelming odds and come out ahead. That's reinforced in the American upbringing. That wasn't my upbringing. I grew up seeing the cold truth that you can't Han Solo your way through life. The "human will to survive" you're describing will the whatever fascist regime is implemented by the rich trying to keep their creature comforts during the climate crisis.

    If we’re all going to die, why are we even fighting these political battles? Let’s just get the nearest rope and end things.

    We're all going to die eventually, but that doesn't mean we need to accelerate the process.

    It’s just hard to imagine moving towards a more egalitarian and healthy society if it’s all going to end in a century, anyway. Isn’t there a case for optimism?

    For the benefit of the people alive today and to lessen their suffering.

    Is that the most important consideration, in your view?

    To end suffering? Yes.

    So to talk about you, directly, a little bit more, I think there’s a sense right now that you’re the “it” poster, in a way that Ender was. But you’re a lot less controversial and hurtful. How do you think you’ve come to be at the center of the storm?

    I think what makes me the center of the storm is just how much I don't take for granted that most Westerners do. People who grew up here have certain assumptions that I don't have.

    What are some of those assumptions? How do they come by them?

    For example, democracy automatically being good and an end to strive for. I don't view democracy like that. I think the ends are a just society, and democracy is a possible means to that end. But Americans in particular who have grown up being fed propaganda (yes, propaganda) about how democracy is always good and always something to strive for, see democracy as the ends in and if itself. They think that people voting automatically means people will have rights or will be taken care of.

    So you used to hate Ender—I remember you used to call Ender toxic and a cancer. What changed over the years?

    Well, we games together a bit and talked off the boards. I think there's a mutual understanding that we're not going to agree on a lot of things but we can get along.

    So the whole talking off the boards thing makes me think of the end of X-Men, when Professor X visits Magneto in that special prison and they play chess. It’s a remarkable transformation from “you’re a cancer!”

    Do you think he should stay banned?

    I think a lot of people who used to dislike me on the boards have come to like me off the boards.

    As for whether or not he should stay banned, I respectfully choose not to comment publicly on that.

    Let’s talk about games!

    Now is it just me or is everyone suddenly calling it “vidya?”

    It's been going on for a while. I believe the term came from 4chan but I might be wrong.

    I literally just noticed yesterday and now I’m seeing it everywhere... it makes playing games seem more... refined? What do you think?

    Lol, not really. I'm not big on whole "le epic gamer" culture. I just play games.

    How important have games been to your life?

    Fairly important. I was an only child, and once I was allowed to play video games it was an enjoyable way to spend my free time. I particularly enjoyed RPGs, which led me to playing table top DnD with friends.

    Do you think games are an art form?


    What is the most beautiful game you’ve ever played?

    beautiful? as in graphics? i don't know if beautiful is an adjective i'd use with games.

    Ok, how about most visually stunning?

    Honestly? Dragon Age Inquisition. It looks really pretty.

    What five games do you recommend JCCers go play right now?

    Okay! Here are five games JCCers should play if they haven't.

    Deus Ex: Human Revolution
    Pillars of Eternity
    Shadowrun: Dragonfall
    Divinity Original Sin 2

    Do you think they should make a KOTOR 3?

    Hell yes. Throw out Swtor, make Kotor 3

    Ahem, any speculation about what it should do? :p

    Oh I've had plenty of plot ideas. My favorite was you being someone who is tasked with investigating the actions of Revan. The twist is that you start of as a sith recruit. I think the most important thing is that you feel like it's Kotor when you're playing.

    Who are your JCC comrades?

    CT, JTS, Darth Guy, Glitter, Adam, and vncredleader are the main JCC leftists I think of. Tho I think vncredleader is way far to the left of us (not that it's a bad thing). Plenty of progressives though who are dissatisfied with the Democratic party.

    Where do they each fit in the coming revolution?

    Probably still ****posting on the JCC. We all have lives to live, man!

    What people on the JCC have been influential in your development politically and/or as a human being?

    I sorta look at this in two stages, ya know. People like dizfactor (rest his soul), ender, lowbacca1977 kept challenging my creationist views when I was a teen. They would not let me get away with posting my garbage, and I knew I was being a little **** using logical fallacies. I was in denial. But I was also 17. So I consider that crowd of "Senate Atheists" to have helped push me from being a socially conservative christian into an atheist. Then we get people like JTS, Darth Guy, and Rogue Ten whose posts pushed me into leftism. JTS mainly, he's kind of the Commie Uncle to us.

    You have two sentences to make the most convincing, powerful, rhetorical punch of an argument to a capitalist about why capitalism is wrong—what do you say?

    You can't look at a system where a small group of people own more wealth than they could ever spend while billions of people starve and think there's any justice in it. There is no justification for one person having billions of dollars.

    Generally speaking, what are you looking forward to in life? Could be anything

    Looking forward to a peaceful life with my girlfriend and finding myself a new career.


    Once again, we are so grateful to all of you for taking the time to read! And, Sean, thanks for indulging me a second time. :)

    Past Issues

    73. Point Given (scroll to bottom for complete list of issues 1-72)
    74. Princess_Tina
    75. Vaderize03
    76. Ramza, part II
    77. 3sm1r

  2. Master_Lok

    Master_Lok Force Ghost star 6

    Dec 18, 2012
    Great interview. In a word, I’ll echo the Star Trek vibe by ending with, “Fascinating.”
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2020
    Coruscant likes this.
  3. mnjedi

    mnjedi Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Nov 4, 2012
    I have been just been watching these threads. But figured it was about time I chimed in to let you know you are doing great Coruscant.
  4. Juliet316

    Juliet316 SFTC Winner star 10 VIP - Game Winner

    Apr 27, 2005
    Very interesting interview, guys.
    Coruscant likes this.
  5. dp4m

    dp4m Also a Narc star 10

    Nov 8, 2001
    Like, if Sean and I hung out and just never discussed politics, I think we'd be great friends -- right up until he says that his favorite movie of all time is Blade Runner 2049... :p
    Lord Vivec likes this.
  6. I Are The Internets

    I Are The Internets Chosen One star 9

    Nov 20, 2012
    This is a great interview so far (still reading through it), and I just wanted to say that you're one of my favorite posters Vivec/Sean. Reading your posts in the politics threads (any of them) especially over the last 4 years or so have given me a sort of political awakening. Really inspired me and expanded my thought process. So don't feel like your posts are falling on deaf ears, so to speak. You're awesome, and you keep doing what you're doing.
  7. Adam of Nuchtern

    Adam of Nuchtern Force Ghost star 5

    Sep 2, 2012
  8. KnightWriter

    KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 6, 2001
    Well then.
    Vaderize03, solojones, harpua and 3 others like this.
  9. Lordban

    Lordban Chosen One star 6

    Nov 9, 2000
    No KotOR 3 while EA calls the shots, thank you :p
  10. blackmyron

    blackmyron Chosen One star 6

    Oct 29, 2005
    As someone who left school with a Physics degree and then ended up detouring into something ****ing awful, I have a great deal of sympathy for you on that front, Vivec.
    I not going to say I'm too old, but I think I'm too far removed from the world of science to get back in - but (sincerely) good luck getting into quantum computing, because that's a pretty awesome field.
  11. Lowbacca_1977

    Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Jun 28, 2006
    Regarding the secret passages, if you were part of Scooby Doo, who would you be?

    I figured any mention would come out of me saving you from being a *shudder* engineering major.

    I do, in a black humor sort of way, enjoy that you mentioned souls in there though.
    Lord Vivec likes this.
  12. Lord Vivec

    Lord Vivec Chosen One star 9

    Apr 17, 2006
    You didn't save me from being an engineering major, but you did save me from graduating with an engineering degree.
  13. Lowbacca_1977

    Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Jun 28, 2006
    @Lord Vivec I count those as the same deal, I just didn't save you from trying to be an engineering major at first.
  14. DarthTunick

    DarthTunick Game Host - SfC Part VI BOFF star 10 VIP - Game Host

    Nov 26, 2000
    There’s a great irony in reading the discussion on/Vivec’s views on the ‘Cult of Work’ as I sit here on a bench near my Target, though a vacation starts tomorrow. :p

    @Lord Vivec I do very much appreciate your blunt honesty in your political thinking/posting, even if I don’t see eye-to-eye on all of it. Always thought it was a bit odd for you to have worked for Facebook, but with your computer background, etc, I suppose it shouldn’t have been that odd.

    And, yes, a fellow Vanilla Coke fan! :D Niiiiice. Though, a heretic for liking Pepsi? Who gives a ****? They’re both good.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
    Lord Vivec likes this.
  15. Healer_Leona

    Healer_Leona Community Squirrel Whisperer star 9 Staff Member Manager

    Jul 7, 2000
    Great to see you mature from that 9y/o Sean.
    Coruscant and harpua like this.
  16. harpua

    harpua Chosen One star 9

    Mar 12, 2005
    This was a great read.
    Coruscant and Bacon164 like this.
  17. dp4m

    dp4m Also a Narc star 10

    Nov 8, 2001
    He's so Velma.
    Lord Vivec likes this.
  18. solojones

    solojones Chosen One star 10

    Sep 27, 2000
    I believe the first one is "who is your least favorite JCer" and the second is "who is the hottest".
  19. Lowbacca_1977

    Lowbacca_1977 Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Jun 28, 2006
    I was thinking Flim Flam
  20. Coruscant

    Coruscant Force Ghost star 7

    Feb 15, 2004
    Oh, yeah, totally—this is it
    KnightWriter likes this.
  21. Glitterstimm

    Glitterstimm Jedi Grand Master star 5

    Dec 30, 2017
    Thank you for that interview Vivec, it was a great read, and you are a far more learned man than I will probably ever be. And ty for including me in the list of JCC lefties, probably the coolest thing that's happened for me in weeks. :D

    It's been very hard for me to reconcile my christianity with my increasing awareness of capitalism's masked, inconceivable power. Religion feels utterly powerless vs its revolutionary processes, and of course most religion has already been entirely swallowed by it. The hardest part of adopting radical beliefs, for me, has been losing the hope I had invested in liberal institutions.
    SuperWatto and Coruscant like this.
  22. KnightWriter

    KnightWriter Administrator Emeritus star 9 VIP - Former Mod/RSA

    Nov 6, 2001
    Anywhere I can live rent-free is appreciated in these times.
  23. vin

    vin Chosen One star 5

    Dec 16, 1999
    I read this interview.
  24. Obi Anne

    Obi Anne FF manager Celebrations star 8 Staff Member Manager

    Nov 4, 1998
    I think your personal development from the young, democratic and religious person to the one you are today is really in a way showing how old this forum is, and how we have all developed during our time here, even if you journey is among the more extreme ones.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2020
  25. Lord Vivec

    Lord Vivec Chosen One star 9

    Apr 17, 2006
    I was 16 when I joined....and I'm 30 now.